The Story Behind The Ghost Beside Me

This weekend marks two years since my short paranormal romance ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ was published. The years that have gone by have served as the most important of my writing career and this book represents that and so much more. Prior to the publication of ‘Ghost’ my 5th book, I had nearly walked away from publishing and writing all together, this creative journey can be arduous and many different things took their toll so this book represented a symbol of resilience and eventually the philosophy that I carry today- never giving up. Ever.

2019 was a year I spent repairing myself as a writer. Before then, I had gone hard into writing and publishing. Books One to Four were published in two years – the results by the end of that were minimal, social media is something I hadn’t fully figured out, being an indie author is a constant struggle that I had yet to discover too. I was in my late twenties and the previous decade was coming to fruition – I was also moving into my own place for the first time. Things were busy, stressful and something was going to snap and it did. I took most of my stress out on myself and this author path which was seeing near enough no results.

Good things do take time and I’ve learned that now, I am content with that now, but lessons for me are always learned slowly and the hard way. Expectation always plays a part in this journey and now its more realistic but back then it wasn’t so I suffered in my own mind for it. So how did I find myself? I went back to my writing routes. I went ‘dark’ on social media for a short time, I even put the laptop away and started to write down the ideas I had for a paranormal romance that would tribute to my own thoughts and feelings, an echo of me finding myself, finding resolve and a path forward. The concept of Edward Neville being an introvert by choice struggling to break that mould and wanting to socialize with others was a vessel mirroring my own struggles. There were also so many ‘real’ elements of me that went into the story, the concept of trying to fit in at a work place, the monotony of commuting and of course living alone.

Although I was hurting at the time I started ‘Ghost’ I seemingly produced a story that might be my best attempt at emotional depth and expression. For a 59 page book, you get every essence of my inner emotion through Edward Neville. The words poured onto the page and soon enough by early 2019 I had a fully handwritten draft. Then I put it away and did probably the most important thing I have done on this path. I began reading and reviewing indie books. My return to Twitter sparked it all to life when I put out a Tweet asking for indie books to review – the response was huge and showed me the potential this platform has, so I got to work. (This was late 2018, long before those tweets where people fish for engagement by asking for book recommendations).

While the reviews and social media stuff started building my profile, I was reading because I was trying to find myself and my love for stories. The wonderful thing is, it worked. This was just me by myself reading books but then the reviews started helping others and so it became inadvertently selfless. And by the time September of 2019 rolled around I was ready and then the perfect thing aligned. You see 2019 was the 13th anniversary of my Grandfather’s passing – a man who’s influence is still with me today. He told me a real ghost story back when I was a kid and that story became the inspiration for the ghost in this book and now I had a reason to publish it – to tribute him. 13 years later because we always had a thing for the superstition of Friday the 13th and I knew wherever he was, that would make him laugh.

I got to work transferring a handwritten story onto my laptop and organised the cover art. And this book would carry the weight of all the above; an emotional tribute, finding myself, self-repair and that important 5th book where they say things start to happen. And they did.

‘The Ghost Beside Me’ soon hit the highest number of reviews any of my books got on release – even now it is the quickest of my books to reach 30+ reviews. Sales were the best at the time and I’d made some level of writing redemption. Redemption in many walks of life is rare and so this book represented that. Expectation plays a huge role in authoring, especially at the self publishing level and so with this book my expectation was zero and that where it remains for every release. This journey and its success is governed by the beholder, you.

The truth is, and whilst finding myself I never gave up even though sometimes it can get dark, it can depressing and it is hard, there is always hope where there is life and creativity. Books are a truly wonderful thing and even now with all this modern tech, social media and other stuff, books still have a powerful mystique, their wonder to expand our minds has never changed. Their power to connect us and heal us when we most need it is something I will always cherish

And now, two years after publication, the majority of authors who I have connected with choose ‘Ghost’ because it has become a writers favourite. Something I hold dear to my heart for what it really represents. I guess writers can read between the emotional and symbolic lines, well, they did for this book and that means a lot to me. As a lower profile published author I never get much of a chance to talk about my work in this way and The Ghost Beside Me stands out as an experience like no other. It got me back into to writing, it proves that books can still be successful after publication and it paved the way to elevate me higher than I could ever imagine. My centre pillar of blogging comes from reviewing books, and their power is what put me back together.

There is great power in your stories authors, embrace it!

To those who have read and reviewed and supported this 59 page tribute to many things, thank you and thank you for reading.

5 Years Published: Some thoughts and lessons…

Time can be a funny thing and it has certainly flown since I first envisioned and then eventually released my first book ‘Open Evening’ back in 2016. We’ve seen pandemics, two different presidents and even hardbacks being introduced to Amazon since this book came out.

For a story based upon a bad dream I had during my teen years it has shaped a huge part of me and my author journey ever since I wrote down the events of that nightmare onto six sides of lined paper. While it sat amongst many of my writings gathering dust for some years after, eventually it would be brought back into the light and served as my great writing reset while also being my debut novel and probably being my most important publishing moment to date. This post is dedicated to some of the vital things I have learned through releasing that book and my wider path as a creative.

Books capture a moment and version of you in time…

I am going to defend it jealously but I am also not afraid to admit that ‘Open Evening’ doesn’t contain my strongest writing – why would it? Because between then and today six other releases have arrived in that time. That’s six opportunities to be better than the previous project. Literally hundreds of hours toiling away figuring out my own style and the English language in general stand between my debut and now.

The story to me is still strong, but the execution, that’s something all writers will always be trying to get better at and so O.E. captures my writing ability at that moment in time. This is a book based in the US but written by a UK based author who has never been across the pond – words and phrases don’t always connect but I’m not going to change them for the world, this book represents so many things I’ve learned in time and those quirks make it all the more meaningful. There’s almost a charm in early works by some creatives and this book perhaps has a little of that.

Every time I have gone back into the manuscript files to change back matter or correct the odd error I find myself unable to change anything more than that. It represents me back then and I’m proud of that version of me in time. This also means that if you do read this book first and move on to later releases, you should hopefully see my writing ability evolve.

Truth in fiction resonates big time…

You’ll find that ‘Open Evening’ contains a huge dose of truth in between the monsters, the running and the terror. My own high school days play out in this book but with the fictional volume turned up. From geographical elements to even characters, much of this story is influenced by real things, people and encounters. For it, you get one hell of a resonating and relatable ride. If you are able to find some element of truth to base your own works on, you’ll probably captivate readers. Combine that with the sometimes outrageous fictional ideas and we’ve got ourselves an immersive tale. That ‘truth’ model is a concept you’ll find in all of my works so this book paved the way.

There are some fictional influences also…

From combining the name of my old high school with the town where slasher film ‘Halloween’ is based all the way to Alien, Buffy and even Blade. Much of my favourite thriller/horrors are also represented in this book and I’ve found that paying homage to them in a story gives readers a weird nostalgic comfort. If you liked Final Destination or any of the stuff below, you’ll probably like ‘Open Evening’.

Social Media Following is everything to me now, but it wasn’t always…

I had a fraction of the following I have now when this book was released and still it sold relatively well at the start.

41 copies – most of which were paperbacks got sold on release. This was a record I have only just broken in terms of release month sales. Back in 2016, Facebook was my main platform along with this blog which also had a fraction of the following I now have.

My advice when it comes to authoring and releasing books: You don’t necessarily need a big following to start off with because as long as that work of yours is findable, readers will eventually gravitate to it over time.

Me: I worked on regularly releasing content before I got anywhere near the social media following I have now. Content will foster new followers.

I got busy writing and spending the time I had to create…

Like I have said before, time is probably the governing factor in all of my content and success. When’ Open Evening’ was ready to be released, my editor wasn’t available and then so I had a year in lieu to use and that’s exactly what I did. Just as O.E. hit its release I was planning my next and already had a draft of ‘Darke Blood’ ready to be edited. 8 months later I had two books out there all because I used the time.

The Free Promo(s) have been worthwhile…

Many authors are strongly against giving their work away for free but I’m not many authors and for the six times ‘Open Evening’ has been priced at zero, thousands of people downloaded it. This has led to me finding an important readership and has even boosted paid sales of other titles over time.

Damn, getting reviews is hard…

I’ve tried near enough every trick out there to try and get more reviews and all of that started with this book. From sending physical copies to bloggers who never even responded, let alone left a review to giving copies to perhaps ‘higher end’ indie authors only to see that same copy on ebay some time later. Reviews are so hard to get and this book confirmed that for me. Since publication ‘Open Evening’ has managed 30+ reviews in that time. A small figure to some, but to me and considering I had very little following back at release, a good number.

It is never too late…

You’ll see me preaching this on Twitter every now and then but the release of a book is only the beginning and from that moment after, the opportunity for a book to find sales, reviews, audiences and a following is always there. It is never too late.

Edit: The official release was the 29th but it was uploaded to KDP early

Only you can write your book…

Writing tips and advice take many forms these days, from the awesome gems of guide books out there to social media, but only you the author can find what it takes within to write that book. It started for me with this fast paced high school creature feature horror but I have dabbled in many different genres while only really listening to myself and figuring out this wonderful craft.

Friends and Family were there for me…

As much as I am thankful for the support this book got at the very start, I will stress the word ‘were’ because after the release most of my family and friends disappeared. While back then it was kind of crushing I now understand that most of these people were supporting me and perhaps not the book which forced me over many years to go out and find my own supporters who backed both books and me. This became a blessing in disguise and I know some authors will never even get the acknowledgement from anyone they know for the work they have done so I am ever thankful for that initial support.

That initial support is how I promote myself today…

While most of my family and friends grabbed a copy of this book on release, they did so to support me personally and today that’s how I promote myself – as a person first and then my books second. Most of you reading this would have probably come from social media and might not have even read my works but you know who I am for that effort.

International pricing matters…

This is more of a practical lesson but for a while, my books never sold anywhere outside of the UK and this was mainly due to me not being fully in the detail about pricing in other countries. Be sure to do a little research just to see what is a fair price someone would pay in other places around the world.

Seek Professional Help…

My budget for most releases includes cover artists and editing – both of which to me are essential building blocks that make up the basic anatomy of a book. From word choices, structure and overall guidance; a good editor will help shape that work of yours. A good cover artist will also guide you – ‘Open Evening’ looks the way it does because of the professional help I got. The original cover I envisioned was way more elaborate but I know that those scratches embody everything I wanted to covey for a potential reader.

Keep Creating, Keep Learning…

The journey never ends and books once they are released will outlive us eventually. Books are a life investment and it’s important to learn what you can from releasing one into the wide world where anyone and anything can be said about it.

‘Open Evening’ represents the start of my publishing journey and for all it’s ‘charm’ this book is something I am immensely proud of giving to the world. There is something truly genuine about fostering a story from scratch and writing it with your heart and then offering it to the world; perhaps that’s the most genuine thing a human can do. To me, its certainly up there, so no matter what happens, embrace your art, learn from it, keep creating it and in this case embrace the unexpected.

Question of the Hour Presents: Author Lee Hall

Hey everyone. Here’s an interview I did with a fellow author and blogger that dropped today!

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‘It’s all fun and games till you end up with an ability and the calling ‘to do the right thing’. Despite your lack of interest or ambition. The Teleporter is a funny, entertaining comical trip into an unforeseen superhero world. A sit back put your feet up entertaining read.’ -My Review of The Teleporter

I have found author Lee Hall to be one of the few genuine people on social media. His approach to helping other aspiring authors find their footing has been refreshing to watch unfold over the last year. With that said here is an author interview with Lee Hall.

Why do you write?

Because I enjoy being immersed in stories above all. That concept of immersion is something I am always seeking while reading and eventually the love for that evolved into creating my own stories. To be able to go absolutely anywhere with the words I…

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Exclusive Excerpt of ‘Consistent Creative Content’ by Lee Hall

Hello cultured reader, here are the first few pages of my authoring and blogging guide book which is currently available for pre-order at a discounted price.

I figured it was a good idea to share a snippet of what you can expect in the book which I hope helps fellow wordsmiths on their authoring and blogging journey…

Introduction

This book explores what I’ve learnt on my publishing journey, presenting it in a way that I hope will inspire you to believe in your own abilities to replicate and even surpass my success. Belief is all you really need on any journey and if I can get results that I’m happy with, then you certainly can. Success is based upon how you judge the results of something over time – it’s both fickle and in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve always measured my results beside the number from where I started – absolute zero. And compared to zero my numbers today appear to be quite impressive, but the truth is, they haven’t always been like that. I’ve spent most of my time nearer to zero than any other number and that’s something everyone must be prepared to face. Some call low numbers failure but to me there are no failures in life, just lessons and opportunity. Both go hand in hand when it comes to writing. The most important thing in writing is to start, even if it is at zero. 

This guide can be defined as a series of experiences from the many years I’ve spent as both a blogger and an author in the social media age. Much of the content might seem obvious but there is also some advice I have never shared before. My hope is to help you progress in the world of authoring and blogging even if you take just one sentence of advice from all of this; to me that’ll be a good job done. Like I said, this may just be in the eye of the beholder – you, and you alone can go as far as the imagination will allow.

Before we go any further, I will tell you now that this book is for anyone looking for advice and inspiration in blogging and book writing. You could already have an established blog or a backlist of books written and published. You might even be pondering your very first foray into the world of words. Everyone is welcome here and you’ll find something, no matter where you’re starting from. Much of it is delivered from the perspective of a beginner with some of the advanced stuff being advice I follow every day.

For me, writing books and blogging go hand in hand and while they are both explored in detail, you won’t find any information on how to specifically write and format a book or construct a blog site. I am not qualified to show you the latter and the former… well, nobody can formally teach you how to write a book in my opinion. It is my belief that the journey of writing and finishing a book is something only the individual can find within themselves. Instead, we will explore how to market yourself as a creator on social media through all the various channels I have experienced. At times it will mainly be blog-centric, but there are some in-depth marketing resources for authors as well. Many of the chapters ahead are interwoven with blogging and authoring advice because to me, they go, hand in hand. 

I have started in this manner for two reasons:

  1. So anyone can see from previewing the first pages if it could be of help to them;
  2. To be upfront about what success I have had in blogging – see the graph below.

This graph shows my blog viewing numbers over many months from September 2018 to recent times. As you can see, they gradually and progressively improved over time forming into a ‘wave’ which will be explored further ahead. The blogging element of this book will focus on how I got to those numbers and how I took the opportunity to continually improve them. The graph stands as proof that everything you write gets results to some extent, and those results echo the message that everything else in this book will take time and that there are no quick fixes.

I say results because for me these things worked; there is no guarantee that they will work for you. I’m in the inspiration business not the miracle business, but every wordsmith faces different circumstances and so I have concluded that, across the board, you need three core attributes to have any chance of success in blogging and authoring:

1.You need to be consistent;

2.You need to be creative; and

3. You need content.

This trio is the main reason why my blogging and authoring endeavours have been successful. Because I hold these attributes in such high regard I even included them in the title of this book.

In some applications you’ll only need one of the trio, in others two and there are a few more vital attributes outside thetrio that I will point out along the way. Some, until now, were my best kept secrets while others appear obvious.

All in all, this guide is laced with ideas that’ll help you improve your authoring and blogging, to achieve greater success. Many of the sections will even begin with snippets of advice from the various authors, bloggers, creators and friends I have connected with over the years – all of whom have found success in their own ways.  

Apart from blog views or book sales what else counts as success? Follow my words and I will show you. Remember, you can do what I’ve done and go even further…

This is an exclusive excerpt of ‘Consistent Creative Content: A Guide to Authoring and Blogging in the Social Media Age’ which is currently available for discounted pre-order. The price will rise on release which is very soon. Links below.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Aus

Amazon India

The stories that inspire us – ‘Timeline’

Hello friends, today’s re-blog is a timely one as it has been exactly a year since I began a new series of posts highlighting and celebrating the stories that inspired me. Seeing as my audience has grown in that time I thought I would share it again.

The deeper meaning to this one leads into marketing and my best advice for bloggers and writers is to always have more content for readers to invest in..

Lee's Hall of information

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Welcome to a new series that hopes to give insight to some of the stories I have experienced that shaped me and my writing. Many of them I hold close to my heart and some you may end up taking on as recommendations. Without the stories in this series I would not be here today!

Although this series will cover stories from all mediums it starts with a book that might possibly be one of the most important I have ever read. This is the story of destiny and how I came to find a story called Timeline. 

I grew up near…

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Discounted Book(s) Alert!

Hello cultured follower. Some of you may know that in my spare time I write books. Now there are a bunch of you who have taken the time to read, review and generally be an awesome supporter of them. Of course there are some newer folks who might not have read them or read all of them, and right now 4 of these books are discounted to 99 cents per e-copy. Banners, links and info below, enjoy…

The Ghost Beside Me

Inspired partly by a true ghost story my Grandfather told me when I was much younger and partly from a potentially paranormal experience of my own in a previous place I lived; ‘Ghost’ makes for a unique diary style account of one lonely person’s quest to get over his social awkwardness by way of an entity not of the mortal persuasion. It’s powerful, gripping and quick – basically the best advert for my writing there is because if you liked this book you’ll probably read my other stuff but if you didn’t it’s only a few hours reading so you haven’t lost much…

The Teleporter

Let’s face it, we all need to laugh more. And considering this is my only comedy book (unless you laughed at the others) you’ll probably find something that’ll get you laughing in this story of one slouch who get’s superpowers and decides to do the right thing. It’s also novella length so again, nothing lost if you don’t like it. There’s a range of diverse characters and it’s also a middle finger to the nearly previous President…

Open Evening and Darke Blood

The two oldest rides in the fairground are and always will be 99 cents from now on. They mark the beginning of my journey and the Order of the Following Series which is still running strong. From hive mind creatures to vampires, the two worlds in these books eventually collide later on making for a multi character Avengers of the Occult world.

Well there we are cultured followers, that’s about all I have in terms of pitching my books to you. Click on the banners for the Amazon dot com links. Some more links are below and do let me know if you grab a copy of something – I’ll happily give you a shout out via social media! Rock and roll man!

Amazon UK Page

Amazon Canada Page

Amazon Australia Page

Happy Halloween! ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ is FREE Today Only!

Wishing you all a safe and happy Halloween. Wherever you are I hope it’s a spooky one.

To celebrate the culmination of spooky season my 5th book ‘The Ghost Beside Me’ is Free to download today only. I’ve been waiting nearly a year to promote this ghostly tale that marked one hell of a milestone for me and a return to releasing books after nearly walking away from writing…

‘Ghost’ is a diary style tale account about one soul who spends his days introverted and tormented by loneliness until a ghostly companion begins to try and make contact. Eventually they become more than acquaintances in what is a short but powerful tale of love, life and death. It can be read in just a few sittings or even just one; perfect for the spookiest night of the year. You can find the various links below:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon India

Amazon Australia

Spooky Season Movie Recommendations 2

What’s better than one post about spooky season movie recommendations? Two posts about spooky season movie recommendations and because the moment I published part one I realised some worthy contenders were left off that list… so let’s dive in…

Final Destination

I regret forgetting to include this film in part 1 and arguably Final Destination has one of the most original premises there is in horror. In Final Destination there is no murderer running around yielding a knife or wearing a mask, there’s no ancient curse or ghostly apparitions. The killer in Final Destination is real. That killer isn’t a character but the inevitability of death and the plan it has for you. Just what happens if somehow you skip that plan? Well that’s what this film is about in all of it’s early 2000’s glory but even today this one holds up quite well. I’ll happily admit the premonition part of Final Destination shaped my work – the MC dreams his death and so therefore avoids it – this inspired my own story telling as the MC from my debut novel ‘Open Evening’ experiences a similar vision.

Final Destination and the tone it captures is something that has a place in my heart. Yes it’s a little absurd but the concept is both terrifying and wholly original. Those early 2000’s horror flicks make for some great viewing, trust me and this one is perfect for spooky season.

Scary Movie

Okay now before you leave I know that Scary Movie is predominantly a comedy but it’s a genius comedy that still holds up rather well-ish today. Those Wayans brothers know how to make a comedy and consider the film a spoof/ meshing of ‘Scream’, ‘I know what you did last summer’ and the plethora of other teen thrillers of the time. The cast is stellar with many familiar faces and some moving onto bigger better heights thereafter (Anna Farris) so if you want something that’ll make you laugh out loud then try Scary Movie – they don’t make them like this any more. Plus even though it’s mainly comedy there are some spooky bits also…

Zodiac

This film ‘effed my shizzle’ up and by that I mean why the hell hadn’t I discovered it beforehand? Well apparently this one released in the mid 2000’s and seemingly passed everyone by. Why? I do not know but the film which is a factual re-telling of how they ‘caught’ the Zodiac killer (google it) is incredibly intricate, chilling and gripping. It focuses on the investigation and one man who moves up from newspaper cartoonist to full on book writer as he deciphers the Zodiac killer’s coding to pretty much solve the case. It’s quite a long watch but well worth it! And did I mention it’s kind of chilling also!

Devil’s Pass

Now some of you may know I love a conspiracy theory, preferably the unsolved one’s and Devil’s Pass is a kind of found footage film that starts off rather well – probably why I’ve included it. Back in the early 1950’s a group nine people skiing out in the remote Russian mountains go missing and their remains are found in rather harrowing circumstances – that’s the true story part. This film does an incredible job of documenting what is now known as the ‘Dylatov Pass’ and those making the film decide to take a trip to the incident site through unpredictable cold weather to find out what happens. I mean would you bother? Predictably things start to go ‘wrong’ and well the film then unfolds. The truth is, I thought the ending to this film was dog shit, but the first three quarters pulled me in and so therefore it’s worth a look. If not just google Dylatov Pass Incident and thank me later.

It Chapter 1 (2017)

Although some will argue this film isn’t a full on horror and more of an extended version of the Goonies and partially I would agree it still makes for some incredible spooky season viewing. I love IT part 1 because of the story it tells between the ‘Loser’s club’ – a group of kids who aren’t popular and don’t have a lot going for them but they find each other. Of course there’s a demon clown running around killing kids also not to mention the wonderful photography and setting of Maine – Stephen King really does know what he’s doing! Although the running time is longer, it has nothing on the book so go check it out. Fun fact: I saw this film 3 times in the cinema. That’ll tell you how good I think it is

The Mummy

Brendan Fraser is probably a name you haven’t heard of or for at least a very long time and I believe this film might be his best one. The truth is I saw this when I was 10 years old in the cinema and it’s rated in the UK at 12. Somehow I got in with my parents and brother, not only did this film partially terrify me but it also captivated me with gripping action, wonderful characters and a pretty well rounded story. The Mummy strikes the balance between thrilling and chilling with an ancient curse, gun toting action, archaeology adventure and Rachel Weisz. It has a cinematic charm paired with a wonderful musical score that I still listen to today – yeah I have a thing about film music… Trust me this one is perfect for Spooky season!

Well thanks for joining me for another Spooky Season Movie Recommendation post. You know at the very end of the month on Halloween you can expect to see my paranormal romance available for Free!

The stories that inspire us – Half-Life

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

Growing up in the 90’s means that I’ve been witness to some incredible technological advances throughout my life. Video games in particular literally leaped from 16 bit all the way to 64 in a matter of years, but that’s just talking about numbers. The experience of a story is what resonates through us all and one particular story that I first discovered all the way back in 1999 still resonates through me. I’m talking about Half-Life and yes I am one of the people who played it quite soon after release at 10 years old.

TOP 30 BEST Video Games of the 90s (BEST RETRO GAMES) | Chaos - YouTube

Back then parents didn’t really take much note of game ratings and I’m not sure there even was anything strict to really regulate them at the time. Summer holidays consisted of being out all day and then watching the likes of South Park at night or the late movie which again probably had an age rating, there wasn’t a snowflake in sight and well most of my generation turned out okay…

And then this game came along that was included in one of my friends brand new Dell PC’s. It carried an air of mystery as neither of us had heard about it back then and so we went in to Half-Life totally and completely blind. By that year, ’99, the concept of a first person shooter game was relatively fresh from the birth of the genre earlier that decade with Wolfenstein paving the way to Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem, Alien Trilogy and even Goldeneye for the N64. all of which, deserve a nod. Neither of us knew then what we were getting into.

Lifetime fans such as myself sometimes forget that Half-Life is a first person shooter game because the story is so rich and immersive from the very start – something rare for the era and so after installing this game we began.

Games slowly immerse you these days through a sometimes cinematic sequence where very little is required to do other than get a feel for the environment or what is to come. You have the makers of Half-Life to thank for that as early on, in fact for the first half hour of the game and after what appears to be a calm and very visual but solitary train ride commute, you are Gordon Freeman, theoretical physicist who is late for an experiment.

Half-Life 1 Train Ride - YouTube

This clever but immersive way of starting the game heightens the sense of weight for a situation which is about to unfold. You are late for work and rushing around – something many of us can relate to. You are introduced to other scientists who also work at this extensive Black Mesa Research Facility. The sense of mystery is overloaded while you are unaware of a sinister build up to this experiment which subsequently goes wrong and then the real game begins…

The experiment gone wrong results in something called a resonance cascade and as you the player are in the test chamber when it unfolds. You see just a snippet of what has been unleashed. Another world full of primitive creatures has began to merge with the one of Black Mesa and Freeman must now fight his way through a heavily damaged work environment to look for answers and try and clean things up.

It’s part Stephen King part alien blasting shooter because eventually Freeman comes across allies and enemies who are human as a cover up attempt begins. The army is brought in and so this trifecta of scientists, aliens and soldiers collide, yet you remain silent throughout the unique set up. There are no cut scenes, no level finishes, no speaking from the most iconic game character in modern times, he is the silent crusader working his way through the puzzling hazards of a huge science facility sometimes armed to the teeth and then just with a crowbar. Of course watching the whole thing is a thin man holding a briefcase who appears every so often, a presence now known as G-man. All of these concepts were unique and were never done until Half-Life. Apart from those now iconic loading screens this game just runs from start to finish.

Half-Life on Steam

As a 10 year old kid, this game had a resounding effect on me. That first play through is something I will always treasure and now in modern times and as a person who works in a huge science facility with radiation hazards, cutting edge technology and of course plenty of scientists; I can’t help but think that Half -Life inspired that journey in some senses.

My debut novel carries similar traits that you’ll find in Half-Life, especially the concept of soldiers arriving after everything falls to shit. This game and its setting, story and concept was something that had never been seen before and dare I say it, has ever been successfully emulated. The story stands the test of time and was expanded upon for the subsequent sequels but this one, stands above them all.

Have you played Half-Life?